Mr. Irrelevant? Not if you ask the San Francisco 49ers.
“He’s relevant to us,” General Manager John Lynch told reporters.
The quarterback, a four-year starter who is more adept at scrambling than passing, has a chance to distinguish himself with the 49ers. Reports have swirled that they’re listening to trade proposals for Jimmy Garoppolo. Trey Lance, the No. 3 pick out of North Dakota State in 2021, may be their quarterback of the future, but there could be room on the roster for a long shot such as Purdy.
“I think it’s a funny thing,” Purdy said (via the 49ers’ website). “If you’re a fan, or even my family, friends and stuff, it’s funny to laugh about it and joke around with it. For me, I’m looking at it as an opportunity. I got my foot in the door, a team believed in me, and now I get my opportunity to go and play football. That’s what I want my career to be. That’s what I want my job to be, is to be an NFL quarterback, and now I have the opportunity to do so. That’s how I’m looking at it.
“From the outside looking in, I guess it’s a funny thing, and I’ll embrace the role and have some fun with it for sure. But at the end of the day, I’m trying to go and help a team win the Super Bowl. That’s where my mind-set is at with it.”
During his college career in Ames, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder won big games against Oklahoma, Texas and Oregon, and his 2019 string of autumnal wins as a sophomore over West Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas and Baylor was labeled “Brocktober.” Last season, he completed 71.7 percent of his passes (67.7 for his career), most of which were midrange attempts.
Purdy was 30-17 at Iowa State, with a 24-11 mark against Big 12 teams. A native of Gilbert, Ariz., he passed for 12,170 yards and amassed 13,347 yards of total offense, passing for 81 touchdowns and running for 19.
Still, NFL history hasn’t been terribly kind to Mr. Irrelevants since Paul Salata, who played pro football in the 1940s and ’50s, created the award in 1976, intending it as a celebration rather than a mockery of a player who might ordinarily be forgotten. A successful businessman, Salata organized a celebration of the player, holding a banquet, a parade and other events for 45 years in Huntington Beach, Calif. (He died last year at 94.)
Salata’s family intends to continue the festivities and, for now, there’s optimism about Purdy’s pro future.
“He was a guy we labeled early as our number one free agent we were going to go after, and when you get to there and they haven’t been drafted, we have the last pick, we thought it was perfect,” Coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters. “The guy has played a lot of football. He plays the game the right way. He’s extremely tough, gets the ball to the right spots and plays very well in the pocket and is a guy who we think can come in here and help us fill out this roster and give himself a chance to make the team.”